Headline: "For protection and fun, more women are learning to shoot"

by Chad D. Baus

The Toledo Blade is reporting that a growing number of violent crimes, including robberies and home invasions, has Toledo women considering some extra protection.

From the article:

"There's been so many shootings in Toledo that it's unnerving," said Ms. [Deborah] Pierce, a glass inspector. "If I ever have an intruder, I want them to know I mean business."

That's why she's learning to shoot a gun.

While firearms have been more commonly associated with men, an increasing number of women are showing an interest in owning and using guns. From mothers protecting their families to young professionals who live alone, to women in their 60s, it's a trend that's catching on.

Concealed-carry course instructors say they’ve seen a steady increase in the number of women getting concealed carry permits.

"The percentage of women carrying guns is increasing faster than that of men," said George Benore, owner and instructor at the Institute of Firearms Training in Sylvania. The institute offers courses in gun safety and handling guns properly. "In the past two years, enrollment for women has increased 20 to 30 percent."

The article goes on to say that, nationally, the percentage of women who report having a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property is 43 percent, up from 33 percent in 2009 and 36 percent in 2010, according to an annual Gallup Crime Survey conducted in October. The poll showed that 23 percent of women reported owning a gun, up from 13 percent in 2005.

Again, from the article:

In Ohio, residents are required to take 12 hours of gun safety training to obtain a concealed carry permit. Increasingly, local women are taking the courses, getting permits, and regularly packing heat.

Debbie Pratt recently attended Ladies Night at Cleland’s Outdoor World to take a course on gun safety and practice shooting at the range. She got her concealed carry permit last year after her home was broken into and is preparing to buy her first gun.

"After that I didn’t feel safe living alone," said Ms. Pratt, 53, of Toledo. "I’m here for some practice, so I can decide what I want to buy."

While safety may be the initial attraction, many women are finding they enjoy that sense of power and security that comes with handling a firearm.

"It’s empowering," Ms. Pratt said. "A lot of women, like me, don’t have a husband or significant other. We have to protect ourselves."

According to The Blade, Cleland's has been hosting Ladies Night for more than a decade. Over the years, attendance at Ladies Night has steadily increased.

The event, held the first Wednesday of every month, has drawn as many as two dozen women.

The two-hour event combines instruction and target practice. The 30 minutes of instruction focuses on gun safety, what it takes to shoot a gun, and trigger control.

"We really stress safety," said Mrs. Cleland. "The worse thing in the world is if you shoot yourself or someone you didn't want to shoot."

..."When handled properly, guns are safe and fun to shoot," said Mrs. Cleland, 67, of Swanton. "You have to put safety first."

On the range, women practice with everything from a .22-caliber revolver, the simplest to use, to more complex guns such as semi-automatic pistols.

The article provides quotes from other women who are learning to shoot at Cleland's, before ending with final thoughts from Ms. Pierce:

Learning to shoot a gun wasn't exactly her idea of fun, but for Ms. Pierce, who attended the event with her two daughters, "it's just one of those things that have to be done."

"I want them to get a feel for what it's like and to be prepared," Ms. Pierce said of her daughters, Janelle Pierce, 29, and Debrielle Pierce, 22. "I'd rather them have something and not need it, than need something and not have it.

"Just in case."

To find a firearms training or concealed carry class near you, click here.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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